Frosty Repeat

August 9, 2011 10:47 AM
Frosty Repeat

Two big wins in a row bring a flood of attention

Capturing Supreme Champion honors at the 2010 World Dairy Expo ensured Harvue Roy Frosty, also the 2009 champion, the status of legend in dairy cattle circles. Only three other times in the history of the event has a cow recorded back-to-back championships.

Brookview Tony Charity was the first to record a consecutive Expo repeat with wins in 1984 and 1985. Lyndale Convincer Elaine accomplished the feat in 1988 and 1989, while C Merkley Starbuck Whitney notched her double win in 1992 and 1993.

Frosty’s ownership team—Rudolph, Wis., dairy farmers Mike and Julie Duckett, Julie’s parents Jim and Nancy Junemann and Green Bay, Wis., veterinarian Scott Armbrust—have no doubts about their prize Holstein belonging in the ranks of the elite.

"She’s such a special cow," says Mike Duckett. He and Julie purchased Frosty as a two-year-old from Dave and Debra Hardesty’s Harvue Farms in Berryville, Va., in the summer of 2006. "She’s a modern dairy cow who is put together about as well as a dairy cow can be. She’s extreme big, but she’s also extreme dairy. It’s difficult to get that combination. She has it all."

"She’s probably as good an all-around dairy cow as there is," Armbrust adds. "With that extreme udder and those extreme dairy characteristics and ability to milk, she’s in the league of the extraordinary."

Frosty’s accomplishments—both in and out of the show ring—lend credence to her owners’ assessments. At the age of three years and 10 months, she produced a 365-day record of 38,953 lb. of milk with 1,747 lb. of butter-fat (4.5%) and 1,229 lb. of protein (3.2%). At five years and seven months, she produced 40,725 lb. of milk with 2,030 lb. of butterfat (5.0%) and 1,138 lb. of protein (2.8%). "Ten years ago, everybody thought that show cows didn’t give milk," Duckett says. "But for the last three lactations, Frosty has been right at 40,000 lb. Any way you look at it, that’s pretty impressive."

Winning Streak. Frosty was nominated All-American Senior Two-Year-Old in 2006. At the 2007 World Dairy Expo, she captured the Intermediate Holstein championship and was named Reserve Grand Champion.  Roughly six weeks after winning the 2009 Expo Supreme Champion title, she won top honors in the five-year-old class of the Canadian National Holstein Show, held in conjunction with the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Toronto, and was named Reserve Grand Champion there as well.

As you would expect, Frosty’s two Expo championships have brought her a great deal of attention. "After we won in 2009, we got phone calls and e-mails from people congratulating us and wanting to know more about Frosty," Duckett says. "That continued after we won last year. At last year’s Royal, a guy from Australia came up to me and told me that he had come to the show just to see Frosty. We’ve also had a steady stream of visitors coming to the farm over the past two years to see Frosty in person."

The interest generated by Frosty has become the focal point of her owners’ marketing strategy. "It’s wonderful to have that great, once-in-a-lifetime cow," Armbrust says. "But you better have a business and marketing plan in place as well. You have to pay the bills."

Winning Supreme Champion at World Dairy Expo provides owners unique marketing opportunities. Dairy cattle breeders from around the globe seek offspring of these elite cows, and there is always the possibility of a long-term impact on the entire breed.

Frosty now has more than two dozen calves on the ground. At the 2009 World Classic Sale, one of her heifer calves sold to a Mexican syndicate for $95,000. At last year’s Classic, a Canadian breeder paid $48,000 for an unborn calf out of Frosty.

"We’re just starting to see the benefits of winning at World Dairy Expo," Duckett says. "And it’s only going to get better. We now have a huge market for embryos out of Frosty’s daughters. And we’re just starting to see the first granddaughters out of her sons being born. It’s been a pretty exciting time around here."

Armbrust adds: "We’re at the point now where someone will say the name ‘Frosty’ and everyone within earshot will know who that person is talking about. That tells us our marketing plan is on target. But with the great show cows, it’s always a question of what kind of impact she and her offspring will have on the Holstein breed long-term. We think we’re on the right track, but only time will tell."

Looking back at the year between championships, Duckett says, several key points in time stand out. He and his partners first started thinking about giving Frosty the opportunity to repeat soon after the 2009 show ended. "We did a preg check and learned she had settled," he relates. "That meant she would calve a couple of months before the show, and we would have time to get her in show condition. At that point, we felt like we had a shot. Once we got her calved [in July of 2010], we felt like we had a definite."

Duckett remembers being somewhat surprised at how smoothly things went in the months that followed Frosty’s freshening. "Usually, when you’re getting ready for a show, you expect some kind of glitch to come along and throw you off balance. But this time, everything went really well," he says.

Even so, Duckett says, he was apprehensive as Expo week approached. "There’s a little bit more pressure when you’re trying to win it back-to-back," he says. "Part of it is that you feel like everyone else is gunning for you because you’re the returning champ."

The nervousness was still at the forefront when Frosty entered the Coliseum for the Parade of Champions on Saturday night. "You keep telling yourself, ‘She’s got this, she’s got it easy,’" Duckett says. "But in the back of your mind, you’re also telling yourself not to be overconfident. You never know what’s going to happen when a cow steps into the show ring.

"When it was finally announced that she was the winner, I let out a big old sigh of relief. Then it hit me that we had won for the second time straight. It was an absolutely great feeling," he remembers.

Armbrust had a similar reaction that night. "It was absolutely fantastic," he says. "You never think you’re going to have a cow win even one Supreme Champion title at Expo. It’s such a long shot. And then you end up winning it two years in a row. It’s almost unbelievable."

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